Indiana Joan and the Duplex of Doom
The boys had played together often recently, with only minor bickering. They spent most of yesterday morning playing on the patio or venturing into the dark, creepy garage to scare away ghosts that only glow sticks can reveal.
The two older ones even tolerated Boots hanging out, mainly because it gave both of them somebody to boss around. Boots put up with the bossing because it gave him entre to the in crowd.
There also was a toddler in the mix, but she's so mild-mannered that you never hear from her unless she's wet, hungry or tired. She's happy enough trailing the boys around. I figured the boys could keep each other occupied so I can get some work done.
Are you hearing the Vincent Price evil "Thriller" laugh? You know it just didn't turn out that way.
It worked out all right in the end, though, thanks to an emergency intervention from Indiana Joan. She doesn't crawl through caves but instead conducts archaeological digs through craniums to try to figure out why good kids are acting like heathen brats.
The morning went so smoothly that I thought I wouldn't need Joan. We sailed past lunch without any major hullabaloo - pizza and brownies always are a safe bet. I hadn't accomplished much work wise, but I figured that would come while the younger kids napped.
The baby went out like a light - I told you she was easy. Boots, of course, did not. He tromped up the stairs and into the middle of Batcave play, demanding his own action figure. Never mind that we have roughly 3.6 dozen Batman figures - the boys had to bicker over who played with which one.
The floor/ceiling shook. Language turned blue. A brawl erupted, and a herd of angry elephants stampeded down the stairs.
"He took the one I was playing with," one accused.
"He hit me," another sobbed.
"$#(!) !*@" the third muttered.
The dispute was resolved with the usual problem-solving platitudes - I'm sure it was an accident, you guys can work out sharing the toys, and we don't talk like that. A few minutes later, the scene repeated.
"He won't share the Batmobiles," one accused.
"He hurt my eye," another sobbed.
"$#(!) !*@" the third muttered.
I was ready to send them to the garage for another ghost hunt, except this time I was going to lock the door and leave them there for the rest of the day. I figured the authorities would frown on that, though, so I instead summoned Joan.
She quickly recognized that all three boys were playing the same role repeatedly - Snitch, Crier and Potty Mouth. I'd failed to recognize the characters because they were so at odds with each boy's normal personality.
Joan sat the boys on a bed upstairs and proceeded to lecture.
"Do you know what you've been doing all afternoon?" she asked. Blank stares. "Well, I'm going to tell you.
"You," she said, gesturing at Snitch. "You run down and tattle about everything. I know that sometimes I need to know what's going on, but a lot of this you can work out yourselves. I've seen you do it.
"And Crier, these are little accidental bumps you're complaining about. It's OK to cry if something hurts, but this doesn't hurt that badly.
"Potty Mouth, you keep using words you know you're not supposed to say. If you have a problem, tell someone, but don't call him ugly names."
Snitch looked confused. "Why are you smiling?"
"Because you boys are silly," she said. "You keep doing the same thing over and over again to get my attention. And you're getting it, but not in a good way. Is this any fun?"
Three heads shook. Finally, something they could agree on.
"Then let's stop doing it."
Either Joan's archeological psychology worked or the boys were simply burned out on fighting. Whatever the reason, the rest of the afternoon was placid.
Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.